What is Office-Based Addiction Treatment, and Who Can It Help?


Kristen Esson, a nurse at South Shore Health

Kristen Esson, LPN, NCPRSS

Addiction is a disease. Just like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, the signs of addiction are often first addressed in a medical setting by a patient’s Primary Care Provider (PCP). 

For too long, this has often been where care breaks down for patients with Substance Use Disorder (SUD) due to the stigma that still surrounds the disease. But we’re working to change that.

As part of the Grayken Center for Treatment at South Shore Health, we are proud to offer office-based addiction treatment at South Shore Medical Center in Norwell. 

This model of care, which was pioneered at Boston Medical Center, is a program for adult patients who misuse substances such as alcohol, opioids, benzos, or other substances.

As an Addictions Nurse Liaison at South Shore Medical Center, I get a lot of questions from patients and members of the South Shore community about our program. Here are answers to some of the most common questions.

What is Office-Based Addiction Treatment?

Office-Based Addiction Treatment, also referred to as OBAT, is a program that supports patients with substance use disorder. Our program, which is led by two nurses with experience in substance use disorder treatment, serves patients who are at least 18 years old in a judgement-free, compassionate environment.

What treatment options are available with office-based addiction treatment?

At South Shore Health, our team works with patients and their providers to develop a plan that meets their specific needs. Treatment may include medications, such as Vivitrol or Suboxone, in conjunction with behavioral health appointments. For some, we make referrals to inpatient detox facilities, or ongoing meetings, such as AA.

It really comes down to what’s best for the patient.

How do patients get connected to South Shore Health’s office-based addiction treatment?

As part of the Grakyen Center for Treatment, we work closely with South Shore Health’s bridge clinic and perinatal behavioral health program.

For patients that are misusing alcohol, they can either start care at the bridge clinic, or with our office-based team in Norwell. 

For patients who misuse other substances, including opioids, care begins at the bridge clinic, located at South Shore Hospital. Patients can contact the bridge clinic directly, or a South Shore Medical Center provider will refer a patient to the bridge clinic for care.

Once a treatment plan is established, patients will transfer to South Shore Medical Center in Norwell for ongoing support and connection to additional services, if needed.

For expectant mothers, or mothers who are less than two years postpartum, the perinatal behavioral health program at South Shore Hospital is equipped to handle the unique needs of mothers coping with behavioral health or substance use disorder.

Of course, patients can always contact any one of our programs to ask for help, and our knowledgeable team will point you in the right direction.

Do I have to be a South Shore Medical Center patient to access office-based addiction treatment services?

Yes. While the bridge clinic and perinatal behavioral health program will see patients with any (or no) primary care provider, once you transition to office-based addiction treatment services, you will need to have a PCP that practices at one of South Shore Medical Center’s primary care practices. 

Learn more about our primary care providers and locations.

Does insurance cover office-based addiction treatment?

Most insurance plans cover office-based addiction treatment. However, it’s always a good idea to call the number on the back of your insurance card to confirm your specific benefits.

What do I do if I’m in crisis and can’t wait for an office-based visit?

If you need help right away, EMS providers across the South Shore are trained to assist with substance use and behavioral health crises, so call 911. You can also call Aspire Health Alliance 24 hours a day at 1-800-528-4890.

By bridging gaps in care and bringing substance use disorder treatment into the primary care office, we’re working to fight the stigma around addiction, and help patients achieve recovery.

Learn more about the Grayken Center for Treatment at South Shore Health.